You’re seeing your favorite band. You’re hearing your favorite song. You’re attending the best concert that has even taken place on the face of the earth. A woman in front of you takes out her phone. You think she might want to capture this beautiful moment, but no: she’s checking her email.
Unfortunately, such incidents are becoming more and more common. I am here today to convince you to leave your phone at home the next time you attend a concert.
I am not unlike the woman I just described, checking her email at Paradiso; I am just as eager to stay on top of things as everyone else: I have my smartphone glued to my hand too, half the time. I understand the need to be accessible 24/7, to be in the loop. I experience it too.
But there is another side to this situation. There is a force at work here which is not individual, but collective, not “in the know”, but mindful, not anxious but relaxed. A concert offers an opportunity for repose, and I think you should take it. Here’s why.
You’re not alone at a concert. You purchased a ticket and thereby entered into a contract. Like any contract, this comes with certain rights as well as certain duties: you have the right to be there and the right to enjoy yourself and the right to hear the music you paid to hear. But you also have the duty to make sure your fellow audience members enjoy these same rights. Your rights are limited only by the rights of those around you. Once you enter the Paradiso’s hallowed halls, you and your fellow audience members are jointly responsible for making the show a success; this responsibility does not lie solely with the performers. A wise man once said: ask not what your concert can do for you, ask what you can do for your concert.
By taking out your phone, you are polluting the experience of your fellow audience members. The light given off by the screen will distract them, and if, God forbid, you raise your phone to record the performance, you are also obstructing their view.
I understand that your enjoyment might translate into a desire to capture that feeling, that moment or that song on the small screen forever. I am sorry to tell you that this cannot be done. I am sorry to tell you that time passes. Things fade away. And, above all: technology has not yet advanced far enough to capture the true feeling of seeing the best concert you have ever seen unfold before your eyes. I don’t think it ever will. So instead of focussing on your battery percentage or the lighting of your photo or the amount of likes it will earn you on Instagram, you might as well enjoy it while it lasts.
Perhaps you took out your phone because you were not attending the best concert of your life. Perhaps you took it out because you were bored. Perhaps you took it out because of an emergency, in which case you should leave the concert and go see your grandma in the hospital right away. In all other cases, I beg of you to muster up some semblance of respect for the performers working their ass off on the stage, and for the people around you who might, at this very moment, be enjoying the best concert of their lives.
If you cannot take out your phone at a concert, what can you do? How can you come to terms with the passing of time and the fading of memories? There’s only one way, really: enjoy it while it lasts. Listen to the beautiful notes, feel the beat in your bones and belt along to your favorite verses. I know I will.